Dacryocystitis is a medical term used for an infected tear duct. It is an infection occurring in the tear sac or lacrimal sac of the eye. You will find small opening in the inner corner of upper and lower eyelid. This is the tear duct opening. Tear duct is a small tube that carries away the tears from the eye into the nasal cavity. Generally the tears are not visible when they pass into the nasal cavity. Infection can occur in a blocked tear duct. In most cases it is bacterial infection.
The condition of infected tear duct is more common in infants and children, even though it occurs at any age. This is because in some infants the lachrymal duct remains obstructed since birth. An infant may outgrow this congenital anomaly as he grows, meaning the passage from which tears pass to the nose will widen by the time he reaches 1 year. In adults tear ducts can block or become narrow due nasal bone growth. It can also become blocked and infected after an eye infection or trauma to the eyes or nose.
Symptoms Of Infection Of Tear Duct
Infected tear duct can be either an acute problem or chronic problem.
When it occurs for the first time it is called acute dacryocystitis, when it occurs repeatedly the problem becomes chronic. Symptoms of acutely infected tear duct include:
- Swelling in the inner side of the lower eyelid.
- Pain in the lower eyelid.
- The area turns red and tender to touch.
- Pus or yellow and thick discharge from the site.
- Fever may accompany these symptoms.
- There may be constant itching in the eye due to irritation.
- Many times the eyelids may stick together due to oozing of pus.
- Since the ducts are blocked, there is excessive tearing from the eyes.
- Generally one eye is affected.
Treatment For Infected Tear Duct
Generally while treating an infected tear duct, the doctor usually advises wait and watch approach. Most infants outgrow this congenital anomaly as they grow. By the age of 1 or 2 years the duct fully widens and the tears can flow freely.
However during this period the doctor may advise the parents to massage the area where the opening of tear duct is located with their fingers at least two to three times in the day. The parents should take precautions such as cutting their fingernails and washing their hands before massaging the area. When there is associated fever or pain and redness patient may need antibiotics.
In an adult, a course of oral antibiotic may help to treat tear duct infection effectively. Most cases of tear duct infection are treated without remission. Additionally, warm compresses may accelerate the resolution of the infected tear duct.
However, when antibiotics do not respond and the condition still persists without much change, the doctor may opt for surgical probing. It is a procedure where a probe is guided through the opening into the duct to clear the blockage.
If probing also fails, a surgical procedure called dacryocystectomy is advised by the doctor. In this procedure the narrow duct is surgically widened.